Why resistance training matters.
Overall health and getting fit is not as much work as people think. You want to look fit. You want to look healthy. There is no shame in that. There is simply too much evidence that being strong, fit, and healthy maximizes your life. There is a stigma that is incorporated with the practice of strength training, which does not result in a similar response when you profess that you are a “multi-vitamin user”.
Wanting to feel, look, and practice healthy habits seems to be worthy of being chastized or categorized as superficial and vain. Being fit and strong brings a confidence and influences your well-being in literally every corner of your life and every moment of your life. Individuals want to look fit but few do meet this when you look around, when it is viewed it is regarded as “self indulgent” and reduced by bystanders eating their triple dip icecream extra whipping sundae.
People always want to lose weight to achieve this “fit” status. However, There are a few misconceptions with this.
They hold the tried and true bathroom scale’s numbers as omnipotent. They see the numbers fall away, they are happy. They lost weight.
Typically, the approach is, I’ll eat clean and treadmill, Stairmaster, and elliptical my butt off until those numbers change and my pants fit better. Good job. But was it the weight you wanted? What exactly did you lose? Did you run yourself silly? Or could these long runs run yourself at risk?
Endurance training has been shown to be predominantly dose dependant. Studies show up to about 1 hour daily, beyond which further exertion produces diminishing returns and may even cause adverse cardiovascular effects in some individuals.
There is some evidence, that endurance training puts you at risk for inflammation in addition to
Stiffening of the atria
Coronary artery calcification
large-artery wall stiffening
Veteran endurance athletes in sports such as marathon or ultramarathon running or professional cycling have been noted to have a 5-fold increase in the prevalence of atrial fibrillation.
While a caveat is that it seems alarmist to say running is dangerous on you for the long term health there is some validity.
If you want to look fit and feel good, there is such thing as overdoing it.
Running is hard on the body, particularly the joints. the repetitive of the running motion, if done incorrectly, can cause a chain of problems. Once just one mile is completed, a typical runner’s legs will have to absorb more than 100 tons of impact force. It’s a testament to the durability of the human body. Running can be safe and enjoyable as long as mechanics are done correctly. At the same time, though, the force of gravity that walkers have is a much lower (1% to 5%) risk of exercise-related injuries in comparison to runners (20% to 70%).
You did a lot of cardio and the results may be what you wanted in your terms of weight loss, then great!
But what if you get lackadaisical and stop eating clean, you stop running 8-10 miles a week, and stop making sweat snow angels on the gym floor after your cardio? You gain it back. (Also your body adapts to training and you burn less calories performing that movement. More on that later.)
That approach is very hard to sustain, its also hard on your joints, tendons, and metabolism.
Some things happen when you restrict calories too much from “eating clean” and running or doing massive amounts of cardio.
Additionally individuals think that you cannot lose weight UNLESS you do cardio.
Exercise and eat right, right? Perhaps, but that is not precisely the case.
Typically, people plateau and gain weight once they exercise and change their eating habits.
There is a distinct problem with using cardio only as a tool for weight loss.
Its energy burnt. You burn far less than you think participating in cardio.
But other conflicting evidence shows that steady state long distance running has negligible effects on weight loss.
Also, your body adapts fairly quickly to stimuli. Running may influence a sharp change in energy expenditure, but it does taper off and body is more ept at handling, coping, and reserving energy towards that stress. (1)
These “diets” and approaches are not the answer. Because you guessed it, you can’t deprive food and run 8-10 miles every week constantly. In fact, 2/3 of dieters typically regain even more weight than they lost within the following years of their weight loss diets.
Weight regain from only diet and exercise
In each groups who lost weight, those who only dieted, and those who dieted and did aerobic exercise, regained over 50% gained their fat back. The furthest study that checked on weight regain was 14 months after their trials.
So diet and cardio just don’t keep off of fat
This is because weight maintenance is not understood.
And no matter who you are 8-10 miles takes a long time. Which is a big factor and decider when it comes to people losing weight.
Another reason failure to keep the weight off, is when calorie restriction occurs, it affects your metabolism.
This affects how many calories you burn in a given time. It slows your metabolism, meaning you burn less calories over time. This can create a spiral effect and typically can be what attributes to this weight regain. Leading people to more restriction and more running exacerbating the issue.
Let’s say you hear some say I lost 20 lbs! I just ate clean foods.
When they reach this arbitrary destination their musculature isn’t different and most likely they have less muscular than before.
This is from the calorie restriction and aerobic exercise. They want to lose fat. People think if they just lose those 20 lbs. they will look better and it will all be from fat. This is almost certainly unlikely.
Most people who believe their strong, well developed muscles will show once they run, pedal, and row their fat off, are most of the time holding hubristic notions. If they have a relative amount of muscle underneath their fat they are holding, then they could potentially be happy with their results. But remember most of the results do not last long term.
Another reason we are being critical of cardio is because it is difficult to burn 500 calories through cardio. It is much easier to remove 500 calories from a diet. What sounds easier removing 1-2 cookies or doing 1-2 hours of cardio?
An ineffective way to approach your goals is:
I just have to run my fat off or do crazy t-shirt drenching workouts right?
It is a little bit more than that,
The aesthetic part
There is a weird reaction to weight training as a direct connection to vanity. Not really, you want to be healthier and that state of being happens to have a certain look.
If you want to be fit and look like you lift weights you have to lift weights. When you see people who obviously look fit, this look is a result of:
Having a low body fat percentage
Having strong developed lean muscle mass
How do you achieve this?
You must lift weights. Aka resistance training. These terms are interchanged throughout this article
This is not disparaging cardio as exercise or negating it as a tool for fat loss. Cardio is effective
at burning fat, but tools can be used ineffectively or counterproductively.
Cardio, a calorie deficit, and developed muscular from weight lifting and heavy resistance training is how.
Not those weird body blasts on the elliptical that no one wants to really do and the 8-mile treadmill marathons. Your body is a direct reflection of the activity you do. If you do a lot of cardio with zero resistance training, you will look like you run and do no resistance training. If you do resistance training properly, with the correct volume and focus of compound movements, with no cardiovascular training can potentially get you to your desired goal.
Building muscle or lean body mass isn’t pure vanity, you feel better, you move better, you conduct yourself better. Not to mention you reduce your risk for several chronic and deadly diseases.
It improves balance and walking. It supplemented and raised the quality of life in the elderly. In fact, people of the age of 90 benefitted greatly from resistance training.
Evidence of weight training in older adults also suggests that involvement in regular exercise can also provide a number of psychological benefits related to preserved cognitive function, alleviation of depression symptoms and behavior, and an improved concept of personal control and self-efficacy
Overall aspects of body composition, in particularly the amount and distribution of body fat and the amount and composition of lean mass, are now understood to so exponentially important to individuals’ health determining health and longevity.
It is the misnomers and misleading platforms that people adopt without understanding the concepts of fitness that creates a trial and error effect, the rise and fall of the scales, and workout bouncing. Never getting and keeping their results, jumping from fad diet to fad diet and workout plan to workout plan.
What is workout bouncing? – Someone has found a workout in a magazine, online, home DVD etc. begins doing it for awhile. They become discouraged because they see no results or minimal changes in their body. Generally these quick blurbs in mags are not created to build muscle effectively, and when that one doesn’t work, it is on to the next one! Many workouts are written in generalities and not necessarily towards the goals and body you have in mind. The biggest error is they aren’t giving a foundational rapport for you to be keeping your hard earned body you just spent 3 months achieving. Side note* many of the fitness models in those magazines happen to be on drugs as well.
The real contributors to looking fit and healthy
Fitness is a combination of resistance training and cardiovascular training. So is inducing fat loss and supplementing your health. Resistance training is integral if you want to have musculature when you are attempting to lose weight (FAT).
There will be minimal weight loss, if there is minimal weight training.
How does weight training make you lose fat.
Weight training is hard, it requires a lot of energy when performing heavy exercises. This use of energy creates a calorie deficit. This stimuli from weight training also signals to the body that muscle activity is required. Promoting your body to retain its musculature because it is being used.
Another aspect for fat loss
Weight training also increases your metabolic rate. Metabolic rate is important because it affects the amount of calories you burn for energy in a period of time. Caloric intake and expenditure are the ways you lose fat. So this should be an integral approach to you changing your body composition, and enhancing your overall health.
This means creating a symbiotic effect. It is requiring more energy at the moment and heightening the threshold of how long and how much energy you burn over the course of time.
Weight training over 20 weeks significantly increased resting metabolic rate caloric burn over. Some studies show up to 100 kcal higher resting rate.
That may not seem like much,
But that can make losing 20 lbs substantially quicker. 5 weeks quicker. We did the math for you.
20-week diet at 500 kcal deficit or a 25-week diet at a 400 kcal deficit.
An important note* that is simply your response to weight training without any of the weight training energy expenditure counted. It raises your resting rate. The amount of calories you burn precisely, at rest. Weight training burns large amounts of energy while performing it as well, expediting the process even faster.
Resistance training also aids in bone health and bone density. Also when individuals realize they want to lose fat, not weight, fat loss is also a response to resistance training. And not to mention, resistance training helps you preserve lean mass when losing weight. You want the end result for you to be lean and muscular right? Or just thin? Or your cardio session will end up leaving you fatter than before.
Weight lifting burns quite amount of energy while doing it, and post exercise. Cardio does not preserve lean mass. Cardio burns calories of course but if you do not know what you are doing with your diet, you can easily eat them back with a serving of avocado and an apple. Or over consume because you think you burnt much more than you actually did.
Resistance training is what builds muscle, that creates the muscle that gives you the “Fit” look. It takes a lot of time, dedication, work, and eating to get blocky and bulky like a bodybuilder. So don’t worry. You can’t run yourself fit and strong.
What many individuals don’t know is that sturdy muscles lead to sturdy bones. Individuals also believe that they are never going to wake up and be 60 years old. Strong bones can help minimize the risk of bone fractures and fragmentation. Resistance training is beneficial to compensate for age related declines in bone density as well as bone mass. Resistance training is a stress. That stress is absorbed by the musculature and bone. It comes from the pulling and pushing on the bone itself from the muscles. This stress overtime leads to thicker and more durable bones, in regards to weight bearing aerobics it does target bones as well but weight training activates bones of the hips, spine, and wrists much more effectively.
Having high lean mass and low fat mass have protective effects on bone health.Having low fat mass and high lean mass corresponds significantly to the health of a person and their risk of death.
Body composition seems to be a more important determinant for bone health than simple body weight and the reduction of weight as well beneficary for bone density
In our youngest years, around until the age of 30, our body is similar that of bank in regarding to our bone density. The money you are depositing into these bank is strength. Strength is what creates this density. When you age around 30 your body becomes incapable of building or adding any more density to your bones. You are left with every deposit you’ve accumulated and cannot build more.
After 30 our body starts withdrawing on our deposits of this density. You obtain your 60 year old’s self bone mass by what you are doing this very moment (unless your older, sorry). Individuals have to be practicing strengthening/building our bones. In our 30s we stop have to stop investing (due to physiological processes of the body) and we have to withdraw and live off of what we have deposited the rest of our lives. This doesnt mean that you should only resistance training up to the age of only 30 either. Resistance training maintains all of which you have built for a much longer period of time, rather than if you withdrew from the activity in its entirety. So it’s important when we’re young to start saving or building these bones. As well after our 30’s and into our mid life years we need to focus on maintaining what we were able to build.
Isn’t strength training dangerous in old age?
As long as properly supervised and guidance there is no reason for hesitancy for older individuals to take up a strength program .
Weight training has also shown to increased quality of life in those unfortunate with disease that affects their musculature. Such as MS patients it was shown to enhance their quality of life in the people with relapsing-remitting MS.
Fat-free mass is an independent predictor of mortality irrespective of fat mass. This study supports the inclusion of body-composition assessment as a systemic marker of disease severity in COPD staging also.
You want to retain lean muscle mass. Aerobic activity may be more optimal at losing fat mass but it will also allow you to lose muscle and fat. Lean mass loss heightens risk for mortality. Findings reveal higher mortality related with loss of weight, fat mass and lean mass, and a slight increase in risk of death with fat mass gain in older men
If you do not think the future is compelling enough to change how about the now.
Resistance training carries over to all sport and every aspect of life. Strength corresponds positively to every moment in life whether its getting up off the floor from playing with your grandchild to playing ultiimate frisbee. You are more prepared for unexpected stress, improved balance, and hesitantly helping your cousin move without hurting yourself.
It carries over significantly to all sports and activities, even endurance training.
Strength training vs endurance training in elite bikers had shown significant improvements in cycling performance between elite bikers who only endurance trained.
effects of heavy strength training on the mean power output in a 5-min all-out trial following the resistance training regime
Strength training has been shwon to produce increases strength and endurance and jumping height without adding total body mass.
Want lean mass? You’ve got to train for lean mass. How?
Why do you want lean mass?
And it reduces all cause mortality as thoroughly proven above
Body composition vs overall weight
Overall aspects of body composition, in particular the amount and distribution of body fat and the amount and composition of lean mass, are now understood to be important in health.
You want fat of course, but you also want to keep lean mass as well. There is a correlation to those who have higher lean body mass and a significant higher risk in all cause mortality rates.
You want to be resistance training because it creates lean musculature. Gaining and retaining lean muscle mass is important to your overall health and longevity in total.
Muscle preservation. This is what cumulatively in the end creates the result you want. You want to improve your body composition. That is what gives you the fitness health aspects as well as the look. There is a correlation to those who have higher lean body mass and a significant decreased risk in all-cause mortality rate. Measuring up to meeting these health standards isn’t the measurement of the scale it is the measurement of lean mass relative to fat mass you have.
The higher more proportional muscle mass or lean mass you have, with a lower body fat, the better you will look.
Most 200 lb men think that if they lost 20 lbs they would be very lean and have the desired “cut” look.
Very unlikely, if you restrict your calories and beat yourself to oblivion on the treadmill you will potentially lose 20 lbs of weight.
If they just simply diet their way down to that without doing resistance training most likely they’ll look the same (muscle size and density won’t improve). They will simply be just a little lighter version of their 200 lbs self..
Formula for body composition: Simply how much fat your body has + everything thing else (muscle, bones, tendons, organs etc.) = body composition.
You will want to perform cardio for fat loss, because cardio does help, alongside a caloric deficit, but you also want to be losing fat and preserving lean mass if not even putting on lean mass. If you simply do cardio and not the other, you will lose both.
If you are solely doing cardio you will potentially lose fat but you will not be preserving your lean mass. This is the main contributor to how you look when you’ve lost fat.
If you want to be meek and thin, dismissing the potential health, cardiovascular and bone health benefits then run for fat loss. Sedentariness and poor nutrition contribute to the degradation of bone mass, at the rate of 1% per year once hitting only the age of 40. For others that want to keep lean mass, you need to be doing some form of both.You want to be resistance training because it creates lean musculature and retains the musculature you already have. Gaining and retaining lean muscle mass is important to your overall health and longevity in total. As people age, they lose muscle mass and, subsequently, mobility, resulting in a greater risk of falls. Adding resistance training leads to better-quality lean tissue which, in turn, may be an important to rise resting metabolic rate, functional mobility and balance, protein reserve, and exercise tolerance.
Studies show that just dieting doesn’t work
Exercise has shown to be a more prudent pathway to losing fat than just dieting. This exercise has been shown that resistance training has much more effective results in reduction of body mass and fat mass while retaining of Fat free mass.
It is not vanity it’s prudency.
Lean mass isn’t superficial or vain.
It improves insulin sensitivity
A large reduction in all cause mortality
How much you should do?
Just like everything else it is dependant upon what your goal is.
You do not need as much time spent in the gym as you think.
You can achieve the body of your dreams with as many as 6 and as little as 3 resistance training sessions a week an hour each session. It all comes down to volume of sets. But that’s a different topic in its entirety!
The trips to the gym are not agonizing 2 hour stints of throat burning hill burpee slams.
The term workout is misleading because it insinuates strenuity. You want to be taxed and tired go run up a mountain. Training needs to be a practice where strength and skill is developed and maintained rather than just aimlessly doing ab workouts and elliptical pedaling.
If the goal is fat loss then no more than 2 hours of HIIT cardio per week. You do not need to be doing hours upon hours of cardio per week.
If increasing muscle mass and strength is the goal, a program including resistance training is required, along side 2-3 cardio sessions a week or up to 2 hours, especially for fat loss is a prudent measure. If HIIT isn’t working as well opt out for low intensity training like walking. More on walking benefits here.
I play a sport though and there is a lot of cardio involved?
That is fine but you are a going to be burning a lot of energy which will lead to muscle degradation and strength loss.
But, you can hinder its effects. Be sure to account for that energy expenditure. Have 20-50 grams of protein before and after the sport. In addition make sure you are not into a huge caloric deficit, that can lead to lack of performance and strength loss.
If you are long distance you may need to taper weight training down the higher the volume of endurance training.
If the sport cannot go then the weight lifting has to go. Tapering down to 2-3 training sessions a week will preserve your musculature.
If you wanted to lose fat and had to choose one way to achieve that, resistance training looks like the obvious outcome. Thankfully you do not have to only choose just one. Combining anaerobic, aerobic, and a diet for fat loss will work wonders on your body composition. If you weight train 3-6 times per week, no more than 2 hours of intense cardio such as HIIT you will lose fat and gain strength. Not to mention your 60 year old self may send you a thank you note from the future. If you want to learn more about how to eat properly for weight training check out this article Lose Fat with Protein
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